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STT: Finnish pharma firm tried to hide damaging watchdog report

The pharmaceutical company Oriola successfully silenced the report in court for more than two years.

Lääketukkukauppa Oriolan logo yhtiön pääkonttorilla Espoossa 17. heinäkuuta 2019.
Oriola headquaters in Espoo, Finland. Image: Laura Ukkonen / Lehtikuva

Deficiencies in the operations of pharmaceuticals wholesaler Oriola jeopardised drug distribution in Finland, according to a report by the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea, as reported by news agency STT.

The agency said some pharmacies received no medicine deliveries at all in autumn 2017, a situation which prompted an examination of Oriola's operations.

Following its investigation, in October 2017, Fimea compiled a report about Oriola's shortcomings but the pharmaceutical firm managed to suppress the release of the document in court.

That autumn, news service STT asked to review the report. Fimea was willing to release it but Oriola took the matter to Savo District Court, which ordered the document sealed.

After an appeal court ruled that the report could be released, Oriola appealed the case again but the Supreme Administrative Court refused to review the matter.

After a two-year legal battle, Fimea was finally able to hand over the document to STT on Wednesday.

Major shortcomings in distribution

The report revealed that there were serious shortcomings at the pharmaceutical firm, and that it did not ensure adequate refrigeration in the distribution chain, which is essential for life-saving medicines.

Some pharmacies did not receive any of its deliveries from the firm, customers did not receive information about delivery problems and there were shortcomings in the handling of narcotic substances, according to the report.

At the beginning of September 2017, just 72 percent of Oriola's orders from apothecaries and hospitals were delivered normally, which at the time prompted Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) to issue a warning that the situation could even endanger patients.

One of the factors behind the problems was that Oriola had upgraded its IT systems, according to the report.

The news agency reported that Oriola did not comment on the contents of Fimea's assessment.

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